Office Space

Office Space Information

Office Space is a 1999 American comedy film satirizing work life in a typical 1990s software company. Written and directed by Mike Judge, it focuses on a handful of individuals fed up with their jobs portrayed by Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, Gary Cole, David Herman, Ajay Naidu, and Diedrich Bader.

The film's sympathetic depiction of ordinary IT workers garnered a cult following within that field, but also addresses themes familiar to white collar employees in general.

Shot in Las Colinas and Austin, Texas, Office Space is based on Judge's Milton cartoon series. It was his first foray into live action film and second full-length motion picture release.

While not a box office success, the film sold well on DVD and VHS, and has become recognized as a cult classic.


Peter Gibbons is a disgruntled programmer at Initech. He spends his days "staring at his desk" instead of reprogramming bank software to be Y2K-compliant. His co-workers include Samir Nagheenanajar, who is annoyed by the fact that nobody can pronounce his last name correctly; Michael Bolton, who loathes having the same name as the famous singer, whom he hates; and Milton Waddams, a meek, fixated collator who constantly mumbles to himself. Milton had actually been laid off years earlier, though he was never informed and, due to a payroll computer glitch, continues to receive regular paychecks. All four are repeatedly bullied and harassed by management, especially Initech's smarmy, callous vice president, Bill Lumbergh. The staff are further agitated by the arrival of two consultants, Bob Slydell and Bob Porter, who are brought in to help through downsizing and outsourcing.

Peter is depressed, bored, and pushed around at work. He attends an 'occupational hypnotherapy' session urged by his girlfriend, Anne. The hypnotherapist, Dr. Swanson, suddenly dies of a heart attack before he can snap Peter out of a state of complete relaxation. The newly relaxed and still half-hypnotized Peter wakes up the next morning and ignores continued calls from Anne (who angrily leaves him, confirming his friends' suspicions of her infidelity) and Lumbergh (who was expecting Peter to work over the weekend). Peter announces that he will simply not go to work anymore, instead pursuing his lifelong dream of "doing nothing". He finds himself finally relaxed enough to ask out Joanna, a waitress who shares Peter's loathing of idiotic management and love of the television program Kung Fu. Joanna works at Chotchkie's, a restaurant that plays on T.G.I. Friday's interior decoration and uniform standards.

Peter begins removing items at work that annoy him (a door handle that had shocked him on previous occasions, corporate slogan banners, a wall of his cubicle that blocks his view of the windows) and parks in Lumbergh's reserved parking spot. Despite Peter's behavior, he is promoted by the consultants because of the positive impression he makes on them with his bluntness about the office's problems.

Meanwhile, Michael and Samir are downsized. To exact revenge on Initech, the three friends, inspired by Richard Pryor's character from Superman III, decide to infect the accounting system with a computer virus, designed to divert fractions of pennies into a bank account they control. They believe the scheme to be foolproof because they think that over a long period of time they will be able to accumulate a substantial amount of money in units so small (mills) that companies generally don't bother keeping track of them. On their last day at Initech, Peter also steals a parting gift from the office: a frequently-malfunctioning laser printer, which the three beat to pieces in a field.

A misplaced decimal point causes the virus to steal over $300,000 in the first few days, a far more conspicuous loss to Initech. After a crisis of conscience and a discussion with Joanna, Peter writes a letter in which he takes all the blame for the crime, then slips an envelope containing the letter and the money (in unsigned traveler's checks) under the door of Lumbergh's office late at night. The next morning, Milton – having been deprived of his cherished red Swingline stapler by Lumbergh, forced to move to the cockroach-infested basement, and having had his paychecks finally cut off – enters Lumbergh's office to reclaim his stapler. Peter, fully expecting to be arrested when he comes in to work, finds that his problem has solved itself: the Initech building is fully engulfed in flames and that all evidence of the missing money must have been destroyed.

Peter finally finds a job that he likes: doing construction work with his next-door neighbor, Lawrence. As the two of them are cleaning up debris from the fire, Samir and Michael visit Peter and offer to recommend him for a job at Initech rival Intertrode, where they have secured new jobs. He declines, newly content with his place in life. Shortly before Samir and Michael arrive, Peter discovers Milton's stapler among the wreckage and saves it, saying, "I think I know someone who might want this."

Meanwhile, Milton lounges on the beach at a fancy Mexican resort, mumbling complaints about his beverage, and threatening to take his traveler's checks to a competitor.


  • Ron Livingston as Peter Gibbons, a disgruntled computer programmer working for Initech
  • Jennifer Aniston as Joanna, a waitress at Chotchkie's restaurant; later Peter's girlfriend
  • Stephen Root as Milton Waddams, a meek, obsessive Initech employee
  • Gary Cole as Bill Lumbergh, Initech Division Vice President and Peter's boss
  • David Herman as Michael Bolton, Peter's co-worker and friend
  • Ajay Naidu as Samir Nagheenanajar, Peter's co-worker and friend
  • Diedrich Bader as Lawrence, Peter's satisfied next-door neighbor, a construction worker
  • John C. McGinley as Bob Slydell, a consultant
  • Joe Bays as Dom Portwood, Lumbergh's subordinate manager and Peter's boss
  • Alexandra Wentworth as Anne, Peter's cheating girlfriend
  • Richard Riehle as Tom Smykowski, a long-time middle aged Initech employee
  • Paul Willson as Bob Porter, a consultant
  • Kinna McInroe as Nina, an Initech employee
  • Todd Duffey as Brian, an eager Chotchkie's employee
  • Greg Pitts as Drew, a jocular Initech employee
  • Mike McShane as Dr. Swanson, Peter's occupational hypnotherapist
  • Orlando Jones as Steve, a door-to-door magazine salesman
  • Mike Judge as Stan, the Manager of Chotchkie's
  • Jack Betts as a judge


Shot primarily in Austin, Texas, the origins for Office Space lie in a series of four animated short films about an office drone named Milton that Mike Judge created, which first aired on Liquid Television and Night After Night with Allan Havey, and later aired on Saturday Night Live. The inspiration came from a temp job he once had that involved alphabetizing purchase orders and a job he had as an engineer for three months in the Bay Area during the 1980s, "just in the heart of Silicon Valley and in the middle of that overachiever yuppie thing, it was just awful". The setting of the film reflected a prevailing trend that Judge observed in the United States. "It seems like every city now has these identical office parks with identical adjoining chain restaurants", he said in an interview. He remembers, "There were a lot of people who wanted me to set this movie in Wall Street, or like the movie Brazil, but I wanted it very unglamorous, the kind of bleak work situation like I was in".

Judge sold the film to 20th Century Fox based on his script and a cast that included Jennifer Aniston, Ron Livingston, and David Herman. Originally, the studio wanted to make a film out of the Milton character but Judge was not interested, opting instead to make more of an ensemble cast"based film. The studio suggested he make a movie like Car Wash but "just set in an office". Judge made the relatively painless transition from animation to live-action with the help of the film's director of photography who taught him about lenses and where to put the camera. Judge says, "I had a great crew, and it's good going into it not pretending you're an expert". Studio executives were not happy with the footage Judge was getting. He remembers them telling him, "More energy! More energy! We gotta reshoot it! You're failing! You're failing!" In addition, Fox did not like the gangsta rap music used in the film until a focus group approved of it. Judge hated the ending and felt that a complete rewrite of the third act was necessary.

Film poster

Judge also hated the poster that the studio created for Office Space. He said, "People were like, 'What is this? A big bird? A mummy? A beekeeper?' And the tagline 'Work Sucks'? It looked like an Office Depot ad. I just hated it. I hated the trailers, too and the TV ads especially". Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman Tom Rothman conceded that the marketing campaign did not work and said, "Office Space isn't like American Pie. It doesn't have the kind of jokes you put in a 15-second television spot of somebody getting hit on the head with a frying pan. It's sly. And let me tell you, sly is hard to sell".


The Monday following the opening weekend, Judge received a phone call from Jim Carrey's agent. The comedian loved the film and wanted to meet him, and Chris Rock called two weeks later.

Box office

Office Space was released on February 19, 1999 in 1,740 theatres, grossing USD$4,231,727 on its opening weekend. It went on to make $10,827,810 in North America. In addition to this gross, $2 million was made internationally, 6 million copies in DVD, BluRay and VHS sales since February 12, 2006.

Critical response

The film received positive reviews with a 79% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 68 metascore on Metacritic. In his review in The New York Times, Stephen Holden wrote, "It has the loose-jointed feel of a bunch of sketches packed together into a narrative that doesn't gather much momentum." Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and wrote that Judge "treats his characters a little like cartoon creatures. That works. Nuances of behavior are not necessary, because in the cubicle world every personality trait is magnified, and the captives stagger forth like grotesques". In his review for the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle writes, "Livingston is nicely cast as Peter, a young guy whose imagination and capacity for happiness are the very things making him miserable." In the USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna wrote, "If you've ever had a job, you'll be amused by this paean to peons."

However, Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C" rating and criticized it for feeling "cramped and underimagined". In his review for the Globe and Mail, Rick Groen wrote, "Perhaps his TV background makes him unaccustomed to the demands of a feature-length script (the ending seems almost panicky in its abruptness), or maybe he just succumbs to the lure of the easy yuk...what began as discomfiting satire soon devolves into silly farce."

In 2008, Entertainment Weekly named Office Space one of "The 100 best films from 1983 to 2008", ranking it at #73.


Cult status

Office Space has become a cult classic, selling well on home video and DVD. As of 2003, it had sold 2.6 million copies on VHS and DVD. In the same year, it was in the top 20 best-selling Fox DVDs along with There's Something About Mary.

Entertainment Weekly ranked it fifth on its list "25 Great Comedies From the Past 25 Years", despite having originally given the film a poor review.

On February 8, 2009, a reunion of the cast (featuring all cast members apart from Livingston and Aniston) took place at the Paramount Theatre in Austin to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the film, which included the destruction of a printer on the sidewalk.


Comedy Central premiered Office Space on August 5, 2001 and 1.4 million viewers tuned in. By 2003, the channel had broadcast the film another 35 times. These broadcasts helped develop the film's cult following and Ron Livingston remembers being approached by college students and office workers. He said, "I get a lot of people who say, 'I quit my job because of you.' That's kind of a heavy load to carry". People approached Stephen Root asking him to sign their staplers. The Red Swingline stapler featured prominently in the film was not available until April 2002 when the company released it in response to repeated requests by fans of the film. Its appearance in the film was achieved by taking a standard Swingline stapler and spray-painting it red.



Track listing

See also

  • Dilbert

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